Thursday, July 9, 2009


Ward Churchill, former ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote an essay in September 2001 titled Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens about the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which he argued that American foreign policies provoked the attacks. He described what he called the "technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire" in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns," i.e. as those who banally conduct their duties in the service of evil.

In response to 2005 publicity from the mass media and in weblogs, Churchill was both widely condemned and widely defended. Some defenders who did not agree with Churchill's analysis and/or with his inflammatory phrasing nonetheless felt that the attacks on Churchill represented efforts at intimidation against academic discourse and suppression of political dissent.

At the height of the controversy, the University ordered an inquiry into Churchill's research, and then fired him on July 24, 2007, leading to a claim from some scholars that he was fired over the ideas he expressed. Churchill filed a lawsuit against the University of Colorado for unlawful termination of employment. In April 2009 a Denver jury found that Churchill was wrongly fired, awarding him $1 in damages.

* 1 The essay
* 2 Public controversy
* 3 Defense of Churchill
* 4 Churchill calls for the end of the existence of the state
* 5 The CU Alumni Association Award
* 6 References
* 7 External links

[edit] The essay
Main article: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

In "Some People Push Back," Churchill argued that effects of decade-long economic sanctions on Iraqis, together with the Middle East policies of President Lyndon Johnson, and the history of Crusades against the Islamic world, had contributed to a climate in which 9/11 was what he called a "natural and inevitable response."

The "roosting chickens" phrase comes from Malcolm X's comment about the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy that Kennedy "never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon."

Most controversially Churchill referred to the "technocrats" working at the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns." This phrase is an allusion to Hannah Arendt's depiction of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann as an ordinary person promoting the activity of an evil system--a study she made in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. The phrase itself was coined by anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan. Churchill wrote, concerning statements that the attack had targeted "innocent civilians":

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire . the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved . and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance" . a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" . counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in . and in many cases excelling at . it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.

Churchill compared the American people to the "good Germans" of Nazi Germany, claiming that the vast majority of Americans had ignored the civilian suffering caused by the sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s, which Churchill claimed had killed millions of Iraqi civilians, including over 500,000 children. Churchill characterized these sanctions as a policy of genocide.

The essay was later expanded into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, which won Honorable Mention for the Gustavus Myers Human Rights Award in 2004.

[edit] Public controversy

National attention was drawn to the essay in January 2005, when Churchill was invited to speak at Hamilton College as a panelist in a debate, "Limits of Dissent."

The text of the essay was quoted on the January 28 2005, edition of the Fox News Channel program The O'Reilly Factor and commentator Bill O'Reilly subsequently discussed Churchill on a number of other segments as well. The January 31 edition of The O'Reilly Factor featured Paul Campos, a University of Colorado professor, who said he was appalled at Churchill's comments. At the end of the segment, O'Reilly suggested that viewers wishing to voice their opinions could contact Hamilton College or Hamilton's president, Joan Stewart; Hamilton College subsequently received 6,000 e-mails concerning Churchill.[citation needed] The lecture was changed to a larger venue, but was later canceled by Stewart, following what she described as "credible threats of violence."[citation needed] Churchill has written that he received threats against his life as a consequence of his statements and the corresponding news coverage. Fox News Channel, The O'Reilly Factor in particular, led the coverage of Churchill's scheduled appearance at Hamilton College. In the three weeks following the January 28, 2005 debut, FOX ran 16 stories on the Churchill story (9 on The O'Reilly Factor). By contrast, ABC aired no stories on Churchill, CBS aired one (on its morning newscast), NBC aired two (one on its morning broadcast, one on the nightly news,) and CNN aired four stories. Thus, FOX News aired more than twice as many stories on Ward Churchill than the other four news networks combined.[10]

In response to what he called "grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning [his] analysis of the September 11, 2001, attacks," Churchill clarified his views in a January 31, 2005 press release:

I am not a "defender" of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."

Ward Churchill , Statement to Rocky Mountain News

He continued:

It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American "command and control infrastructure" in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a "legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than "collateral damage". If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these "standards" when they are routinely applied to other people, they should not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.

Ward Churchill , Statement to Rocky Mountain News

Churchill clarified further in a February 2005 interview with Democracy Now!

If you want to avoid September 11s, if you want security in some actual form, then it's almost a biblical framing, you have to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As long as you're doing what the U.S. is doing in the world, you can anticipate a natural and inevitable response of the sort that occurred on 9/11. If you do not get the message out of 9/11, you're going to have to change, first of all, your perception of the value of those others who are consigned to domains, semantic domains like collateral damage, then you've really got no complaint when the rules you've imposed come back on you.

Ward Churchill , Statement to Democracy Now

On January 31, 2005, Churchill resigned as chairman of the Ethnic Studies department at the University of Colorado.[11]

Former Colorado Republican governor Bill Owens and current Democratic governor Bill Ritter have publicly called for Churchill's dismissal.[12][13]

Many have been critical of Churchill's comments. Indian Country Today, a leading Indian-owned and edited newspaper, has commented on Churchill's claim to speak on behalf of Indian people:

We will defend a good Indian argument in these pages any time. But, again, there is no evidence that Churchill is Indian. Further, Churchill's statements are obviously devoid of even the most basic humanity that American Indian peoples hold dear. In no way does his insult reflect the views of Indian country. To know the response of Indian country to the 9/11 tragedies is to reflect on the humanitarianism shown by Eastern Native communities: from the Mohawk to the Oneida, the Pequot, Mohegan and many others who immediately put their people - ironworkers, ferry-boat crews and medical personnel - into the rescue and recovery operations, to the California Indian nations that expressed their solidarity with America and donated generously to the rescue efforts, to the Lakota families who brought their Sacred Pipe to pray at the site, leaving their quiet offerings early one dawn. This is always the preferred way of human beings - to understand the kind of empathy required to belong to the human race is essential in all political and economic discourse. To call the people who were murdered on Sept. 11 little Eichmanns is a hideous expression that when combined to Churchill's mistaken Native identity can only poison the public discourse concerning American Indians.[14]

Editorial Board of Indian Country Today , Churchill's identity revealed in wake of Nazi comment, February 3, 2005

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado, meeting in executive session on February 3, 2005, adopted a resolution apologizing to the American people for Churchill's statements, and ratifying interim chancellor Phil DiStefano's review of Churchill's actions. DiStefano was directed to investigate whether Churchill had overstepped his bounds as a faculty member and whether his actions were cause for dismissal. The university's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct agreed that his words were protected by the university's academic free-speech code, but agreed to investigate subsequent charges made against Churchill of plagiarism, falsification, fabrication and ethnic fraud (see below). In May 2006, the University announced that its Research Misconduct Committee found that Churchill's publications demonstrate a pattern of research misconduct. On June 26, 2006, Chancellor Phil DiStefano recommended Churchill's dismissal to the Board of Regents, and relieved Churchill of his campus duties including teaching, service, and research. In August 2006, the CU student government passed a resolution to support the committee's recommendations to fire Churchill.[15]

[edit] Defense of Churchill

When Churchill's comparison of those who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, whom Churchill labeled as "technocrats", to notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann was first widely publicized in early 2005, media commentators such as FOX News's Bill O'Reilly and The Nation's Marc Cooper denounced Churchill's essay, but neither argued that he should be fired for his speech.

Free speech and the first amendment should cover all professors, no matter how repugnant. I think it legitimate to defend Churchill.s right to be a vocal asshole (heaven knows most universities are densely populated with such types on both the Right and Left).[16]

Marc Cooper , February 4, 2005

Cooper continued by describing Churchill's remarks as "carefully selected, hateful, unforgivable and demented, frankly."[16] A number of academics and activists defended Churchill's essay, or argued that it was not grounds for firing him from his teaching job. One of Churchill's fellow professors in the Ethnic Studies department at the University of Colorado, Emma Perez, alleged that the attacks on Churchill were an organized "test case" by neo-conservatives to stifle liberal criticism of the War on Terror, and to undermine the funding of ethnic studies departments nationwide.[17] Betsy Hoffman, then the president of the University of Colorado, said of the attacks on Churchill, "We are in dangerous times. I'm very concerned. ... It's looking a lot like former CU President George Norlin being asked to fire all the Catholics and Jews of the McCarthy era."[citation needed]

Several defenders of Churchill disagree with Churchill's comments and characterize Churchill and his intellectual abilities as lacking, but defend his right to speak:

Churchill may be fired from his faculty position at the University of Colorado for having written and spoken some of the most moronic nonsense ever to emanate from the mouth of an alleged academic. But he should not be punished for being a hack. The folks who hired him should.[18]

Dahlia Lithwick , Slate, February 10, 2005

A number of other political commentators have analyzed the "Churchill Affair" in terms of a "witch hunt"; for example, Gilles d'Aymery, Fred Feldman, the Michigan Independent Media Center, Scott Richard Lyons (Native American Studies professor) and others.[19][20][21][22] Scholars, activists and organizations expressing concern over the firing include the ACLU, the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Derrick Jensen, Drucilla Cornell, Bill Ayers and Immanuel Wallerstein.[23]

According to over 600 academics signing an "An Open Letter from Concerned Academics":[24]

To be clear: the issues here have nothing to do with the quality of Ward Churchill.s scholarship or his professional credentials. However one views his choice of words or specific arguments, he is being put in the dock solely for his radical critique of U.S. history and present-day policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. Apparently, 9/11 is now the third rail of American intellectual life: to critically probe into its causes and to interrogate the international role of the United States is treated as heresy; those inquiring can be denied forums, careers, and even personal safety. . .The Churchill case is not an isolated incident but a concentrated example of a well-orchestrated campaign launched in the name of "academic freedom" and "balance" which in fact aims to purge the universities of more radical thinkers and oppositional thought generally, and to create a climate of intimidation.

An Open Letter from Concerned Academics

Two professors writing in defense of Churchill have questioned the politics motivating his accusers. Gary Witherspoon, an anthropologist and linguist, faults what he believes to be the inaccurate journalism and biased quality of the investigation that have marked the affair.[25] Similarly, sociologist Tom Mayer criticized what he believes to be the politically motivated tenor of the investigation of Churchill:[26]

The authors of the report on Ward Churchill present themselves as stalwart defenders of academic integrity [...] I see them as collaborators in the erosion of academic freedom, an erosion all too consonant with the wider assault upon civil liberties currently underway. The authors of the report claim to uphold the intellectual credibility of ethnic studies. I wonder how many ethnic studies scholars will see it that way. I certainly do not [...] I see committee members as gendarmes of methodological and interpretive orthodoxy, quite literally "warding" off a vigorous challenge to mainstream understandings of American history.

Tom Mayer , Swans Commentary

On Oct. 15, 2001, about the same time Ward Churchill wrote his essay, Chalmers Johnson wrote an article in the Nation magazine, which has been noted to represent a similar argument.[27] Here is a passage:

"On the day of the disaster, President George W. Bush told the American people that we were attacked because we are 'a beacon for freedom,' and because the attackers were 'evil.' In his address to Congress on Sept. 20, he said, 'This is civilization's fight.' "This attempt to define difficult-to-grasp events as only a conflict over abstract values - as a 'clash of civilizations,' in current post-cold war American jargon - is not only disingenuous, but also a way of evading responsibility for the 'blowback' that America's imperial projects have generated."

Chalmers Johnson , The Nation

A documentary on the reactions to Churchill's essay, called When They Came For Ward Churchill was produced by the Free Speech Network.[28]

[edit] Churchill calls for the end of the existence of the state

Pursuing a similar line of thinking to that advanced in his "Some People Push Back" essay, in an April 2004 interview with Satya magazine, Churchill said:

If I defined the state as being the problem, just what happens to the state? I've never fashioned myself to be a revolutionary, but it's part and parcel of what I'm talking about. You can create through consciousness a situation of flux, perhaps, in which something better can replace it. In instability there's potential. That's about as far as I go with revolutionary consciousness. I'm actually a de-evolutionary. I do not want other people in charge of the apparatus of the state as the outcome of a socially transformative process that replicates oppression. I want the state gone: transform the situation to U.S. out of North America. U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether.[29]

Ward Churchill , Dismantling the Politics of Comfort

Colorado governor Bill Owens called this comment "treasonous", arguing that "Churchill has clearly called for violence against the state, and no country is required to subsidize its own destruction. That's what we're doing with Ward Churchill." On February 6, 2005, the Denver Post reported that this comment would be included by the university in its review of Churchill's tenure.[30] Although there has been some suggestion that the constitutionally overturned Smith Act should be invoked in order to prosecute Churchill for his remarks[citation needed], the debate is mostly focused on whether the First Amendment protects the tenure of a professor of a public university.[citation needed] Many, including Governor Owens, argue that the University of Colorado (or any other public university) is not required to support faculty that support the overthrow of the government.

On June 23, 2005, Churchill told an audience in Portland, Oregon:[31]

For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted in his combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal. But let me ask you this: Would you render the same level of support to someone who had not conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit? ... Conscientious objection removes a given piece of cannon fodder from the fray. Fragging an officer has a much more impactful effect.

Ward Churchill , Statement at Portland OR talk

When asked by a member of the audience about the officers' families, Churchill responded, "how do you feel about Adolf Eichmann's family?"

[edit] The CU Alumni Association Award
Main article: Ward Churchill academic misconduct investigation

Teaching Recognition Awards are voted on annually by students at the University of Colorado; In 2005, more than 2,000 students voted. A plurality of students nominated Churchill for the award in the category for class sizes of 25 to 75.[32] With the ongoing investigations by the Ethics Committee, the Alumni Association responsible for presenting the award has yet to present the award to Churchill. Clark Oldroyd, The vice president of the Alumni Association stated that "We're giving that committee time to complete its study" and also stated that, "It just seems like the prudent thing to do."[33]

Alumni Association President Kent Zimmerman told the campus Silver & Gold Record that the group is holding back the award until Churchill's "name has been cleared" by the committee. He compared it to withholding a student's grade on a final exam "if there were questions about the student's effort." Zimmerman is also quoted by the Denver Post as stating that Churchill's "award is being withheld, in part, due to his tendency to "antagonize and create enemies."[34] According to Churchill, "What Alumni Association President Kent Zimmerman is really that it would be really awkward for the institution to have to acknowledge the quality of my teaching in the midst of an effort to paint an exactly opposite portrait of me." Churchill's attorney David Lane contends, "They are punishing Ward Churchill for his free speech by withholding this award".[33]

Within the University of Colorado community, opinions on the Alumni Association's actions vary. Instructor Ann Ellis states "I think it's legitimate to withhold the award. I think the students voting on the award were trying to influence the investigation." Churchill is being evaluated, she said, "because the university has a responsibility to make sure that its faculty members are who they say they are." In contrast, graduate program assistant Mary Gregory said, "If it's a student award, and it has nothing to do with the review, then it should not be withheld."[34]

According to the website, which dedicates its resources to American Indian issues, "Students at the University of Colorado have overwhelmingly chosen Ward Churchill as their favorite professor but he will not be given the award because he is too controversial."[35] Churchill's fifty-four votes for the award were a plurality among all the faculty, but only a small percentage of CU's 28,000 students chose to participate. Given annually for 44 years, this is the first time the award was withheld from its winner.

Ward LeRoy Churchill (born October 2, 1947) is an American writer and political activist. He was a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1990 to 2007. The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States. His work features controversial and provocative claims, written in a direct . often confrontational . style.

In January 2005, Churchill's work attracted publicity, with the widespread circulation of a 2001 essay, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. In the essay, he claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks were provoked by U.S. policy, and referred to some people working in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns". In March 2005 the University of Colorado began investigating allegations that Churchill had engaged in research misconduct; it reported in June 2006 that he had done so. Churchill was fired on July 24, 2007, leading to a claim from some scholars that he was fired over the ideas he expressed. Churchill filed a lawsuit against the University of Colorado for unlawful termination of employment. In April 2009 a Denver jury found that Churchill was wrongly fired, awarding him $1 in damages, but this verdict was vacated by a District Court judge in July 2009.

Colorado Judge Mugs Churchill

cross-posted from

In my last column, I pointed out that the nationalist and "cultural capital" function of literature classes are in decline. With their tenure lines evaporating, many literature faculty are grasping at the claim that they teach "reading" and "thinking."

By this they generally mean the training of managers and professionals in a degraded version of New Critical reading practices.spotting (or producing) ambiguity, complexity, and irony. For those who care about this sort of thing, this is really a version of a much older claim, that they teach rhetoric.

Combined with the right higher-ed brand names, the capacity to produce ambiguity and complexity in the tax code or the National Labor-Relations Act can get sold to a corporate law firm for a million dollars a year.

Of course that requires further training in the ability to live with oneself while eating meals that cost more than a retail worker.s monthly pay. That.s where a corresponding ethical agility.learned in, say, philosophy or theology classes.comes in handy.

The crowing by the University of Colorado administration after the latest twist in the Churchill case illustrates this claim pretty well. Provost Phil DiStefano seems to have huffed a few lines of Hogwarts Ambiguity Powder to keep a straight face while dubbing CU.s trampling on Churchill.s academic freedom, subversion of faculty process and transparent political thuggery "a victory for faculty governance."

It.s true that saying stuff like that comes with a price for administrators.obviously DiStefano.s abuse of Ambiguity Powder has caused his sense of irony to collapse.but he.ll be amply rewarded for this workplace injury. After years as the admin.s point man on the Churchill case, he.ll soon step into the chancellor.s job as the result of a search process that produced him as the "sole finalist."

DiStefano couldn.t have gotten his broomstick off the ground, though, without the teamwork of loyal CU alum Judge Larry J. Naves. The latter waved his wand of Dumbledorean Complexity over the jury.s verdict in order to vacate it, claiming that upon further know, after the jury came up with a verdict he didn.t like.he believed that the Colorado regents were immune from lawsuits!

Yessir, Naves says, the Regents are immune from legal liability the creative part.he thinks kinda like judges, a "quasi-judicial body." They can.t be sued for decisions taken in relation to their jobs. (Unlike faculty at public institutions, who a growing web of hostile law says can be retaliated against for disagreeing with the thugs and political hacks who boss them.)

Now, the law doesn.t actually come out and say the Regents are immune.that.d be too pedestrian and straightforward. You need a good Reader and Thinker to see that.

As RaceToTheBottom points out, Naves could have spotted this analogy of Regents to judges, and the corresponding immunity from lawsuits before the trial, and spared Churchill the expense of a month-long hearing. But before the trial.not knowing its inconvenient result.Naves didn.t need this clever (and false) analogy.

Look for this stinker to be reversed on appeal. And if it isn.t.whoa, nelly. Strap on for a wild ride. Increasingly the Law says administrations have academic freedom.and you don.t.

Here.s your homework assignment for the day. Ask yourself what "academic freedom for administrators" means.
Posted at 10:39:49 AM on July 8, 2009 | All postings by Marc Bousquet


This all makes sense if Ward Churchill is a scholar of integrity. Consensus seems to be that he may in fact not be. I.m not qualified to judge, which is just one reason I.m glad I.m not a judge.

Suppose hypothetically, for the sake of argument, that Churchill is the lying, cheating, plagiarizing charlatan he.s been accused of being. Ask yourself what "academic freedom for mountebanks" means.

Dan · Jul 8, 12:27 PM · #

I direct everyone.s attention to the Gustave posting in the news column about the decision earlier this morning. Gustave gives a succinct summary of the law, and why the judge decided as he did

The most notable quotes from Gustave:

"Because equitable remedies may not be claimed in law as of right, the court is also obliged to consider the harmful effect, if any, that may be caused to third parties."

"The judge found that Mr Churchill did not, and could not, satisfy the "clean hands" requirement. Quite apart from the question of whether he should retain his job, a duly-qualified panel of his peers, properly applying the faculty handbook.s procedures, found that he had engaged in research misconduct. "

"The judge was particularly concerned by the plaintiff.s expressed intention immediately to file suit against the university "if they look at him cross-eyed" at any time in the future. This would, the judge observed, make the courts rather than the university.s governance structure the venue for deciding whether Mr Churchill.s job performance was satisfactory, something they have no business doing."

"Reinstatement not being appropriate.not least because of the all-too-predictable harm trying to force Mr Churchill and the University to get along with each other would cause innocent faculty members, staff and students.the only remaining question to be determined is whether the plaintiff should receive "front pay" in lieu. Here too the judge found that Mr Churchill had not met the minimal burden imposed upon him by the law. This was, essentially, that he should take whatever action was in his power to minimise the financial losses caused him by his dismissal. The judge found that to the contrary Mr Churchill had taken no action whatever in this regard."

Much as I.d like to agree that this decision is alarming (freedom of expression is being seriously challenged even here in the CHE blogs!), I cannot do so. Legally it was sound even if morally, spiritually, and Liberally outrageous to those who want to treat every decision as a threat to the sacred ox: tenure.

2 cents worth · Jul 8, 01:02 PM · #

The particulars of the Ward Churchill case aside, "academic freedom for administrators" means the ability, without fear of personal lawsuits, to turn all faculty and librarians into "at will" employees who can be frog-marched to the parking lot, stripped of their college keys and ID cards/badges, and barred from the grounds for any reason or for no reason at all. It.s a very effective method for squelching dissent commonly used in the corporate world. Oh, they will dress it up with a healthy severance package, COBRA insurance coverage, and several months of employment out-counseling but it still comes down to a system for repressing dissent and a loss of academic freedom for faculty and librarians.

zing · Jul 8, 02:55 PM · #

Marc, you tell so many whoppers here that.s its hard to know where to begin.

First, you falsely accuse the CU administration of "subversion of faculty process". The truth is that every faculty committee at CU unanimously found Churchill guilty of research misconduct worthy of sanction. The Faculty Senate does not want Churchill back. The process worked.

Second, you falsely accuse Judge Naves of needlessly holding a trial. The truth is that the attorneys for both sides agreed to postpone the immunity decision until after the trial.

Third, you falsely accuse Judge Naves of being "creative" in granting the regents immunity. Had you read his decision, you.d see that he cited extensive case law in support of his decision.

I don.t like the immunity case law any more than you do, and I agree that it stinks for academic freedom plaintiffs. But place the blame for this state of affairs where it belongs . on Congress and the Supreme Court . not Judge Naves.

Thomas Brown · Jul 8, 03:15 PM · #

Yes, Churchill was persecuted for his comments and his firing was a direct result of it. However, he brought it on himself. If going to be controversial, your scholarship should be airtight. By plagiarizing, ghost writing, and fabricating history, he gave those who wanted him fired the ammunition to get him fired. Heck, even his "little Eichemanns" comment was ripped off from a Mario Savio speech at Berkeley in the 60s.
The real lesson in this is not that a scholar was silenced because of his controversial views; it is that if going to be controversial then your scholarship should be airtight. Chomsky and numerous other scholars are hated for their views and statements but their scholarship is airtight and few tenured professors are fired for their views.

The Churchill case is simply a poor one to argue that it.s a blow to academic freedom.

CU Alum · Jul 8, 03:22 PM · #

"The particulars of the Ward Churchill case aside . . ." my Aunt Harriett. WC.s defenders seem ready to concede that he engaged in plagiarism, self-plagiarism, fabricating data, and making up sources. Is there any level of misbehavior that should not be protected by "academic freedom"?

Dan · Jul 8, 03:29 PM · #

I like Marc.s allusion to a CU alums conspiracy. Here.s some more grist for your conspiracy mill, Marc: the Butz decision on which Judge Naves relied was authored by Justice Byron White . another CU alumnus. Yes, it.s all beginning to make sense now.

Thomas Brown · Jul 8, 04:17 PM · #

Churchill got mugged? That.s only fair. He sure as hell mugged everyone else.

Fossil · Jul 8, 07:23 PM · #

I feel mugged reading this column.

Dennis · Jul 8, 08:45 PM · #

Nobody mugged Ward Churchill. However, his chickens certainly came home to roost. CU Alum has it right . Churchill was not a competent scholar, and his scholarly misconduct was easily uncovered. At that point, he became a liability to the university. Churchill has no right to expect immunity from public interest in publicly distributed publications.

Mr. Churchill.s apologists are missing the critical points:

Churchill WAS guilty of academic misconduct.

Committees of his peers . his fellow faculty members . determined Mr. Churchill had committed academic misconduct on a scale that warranted disciplinary action.

The regents agreed, and fired Mr. Churchill.

The actions of the faculty and regents are what shared governance is supposed to be about. Too bad you don.t like the outcome, but Mr. Churchill has no one to blame but himself. He proved his academic misconduct on such a large scale that the faculty committees could not overlook it. The university correctly dismissed him. Judge Naves followed the letter of the law, and concluded that the university had acted appropriately in dismissing Mr. Churchill.

The only people who got mugged here are the taxpayers of the state of Colorado, and the students unlucky enough to have wasted their tuition dollars and time sitting in a class listening to tall tales spun by a serial plagiarist and academic charlatan.

Orson Buggeigh · Jul 8, 09:02 PM · #

Granted that Churchill.s research probably wouldn.t have been scrutinized if not for his 9/11 comments, can MB or anyone else point to another scholar found to have engaged in similarly egregious academic misconduct who was not fired?

O. Redon · Jul 9, 05:28 AM · #

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